How I Got The Gig: Will Dorsey Jr.
How I Got The Gig: Will Dorsey Jr.
When we learned that iconic rapper, TV star, and Body Count singer Ice-T was setting it off with the rap-metal band's first new release in eight years, Manslaughter, it was the ideal time to find out how Will Dorsey, whose beats anchor the new album, nabbed the drum chair.
"It was pretty much through word of mouth," says the 42-year-old drummer from home near San Bernardino, California. Dorsey and his three kids live in Mount Baldy, a ski community known for its domesticated bears that walk right up to humans. Back in 2008, the aspiring drummer was teching for Randy Cook of Dave Stewart (Eurhythmics). Dorsey, who plays with Baltimore-based rock band Laughing Colors, had moved out from the East Coast a few years earlier. One day he was at Amp Rehearsal Studios in Los Angeles practicing for then band Blaxmyth. The facility’s manager, a well-connected guitar tech, informed him that that Body Count was looking for a new drummer. The band was scheduled to play the Warped Tour 15th Anniversary party at Club Nokia in Hollywood the next week and needed someone ASAP. Dorsey, a fan of Body Count's 1992 debut, got hold of bassist Vincent Price, who invited him to try-outs.
Omens abounded upon Dorsey's arrival that night. The audition space was owned by ex-Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder. He also noticed drum cases lying around inside with the name Virgil Donati stamped on them. A kit was already there, but Dorsey did have to bring his own cymbals. "I just basically jammed with them and then we did an ad-lib type thing." The B-C crew invited Dorsey back, but when he saw other drummers hanging around, his confidence wavered. "I was like, 'Okay, it's the second round. I guess they just want to see if the vibe is still there.'"
When Dorsey was called in a third time, he had yet to meet Ice-T — not directly anyway. As he was setting up, he overheard the rapper in the parking lot on his way into the studio. "As he was coming through the door I could hear like, 'This motherf--ker better not be wasting our time.' And then he calls out a song we had never practiced." The song was an Ice-T/Slayer collaboration called "Disorder," which was more metal than the hardcore-style beats of early Body Count. "It's actually like three songs in one, with this double bass part in the middle," Dorsey recalls. "So I ran out to my car real quick to learn the song in like five minutes."
That day wasn't what you would call a typical audition. About 60 seconds into "Disorder," Ice–T, standing up front with microphone in hand, suddenly turned around and began walking over to the kit. "He stuck the mike into my kick hole and was just staring at me," Will recalls. "Then he looked at Vince and [guitarist] Ernie [C.], and after a second he's nodding his head and smiling. Which was kind of crazy because I don't really play double bass. I mean I do, but at the time I was more into Rage Against The Machine and Pantera and Helmet, not the crazy death-metal stuff."
When Body Count called the drummer the following day with the good news, it didn't hit him right away. When the euphoria did kick in, it didn't last. Chilling at a club that night, Dorsey struck up a conversation with some random dude, also a musician, who casually let drop that he was the new drummer for Body Count. "He was like, 'Yeah I’m about to play with them at the 15 Anniversary show at Nokia.' I'm like, 'What?' I guess he was one of the other drummers there that day, but I didn't tell him I auditioned for the same band." Next day a perplexed Dorsey called Price about the encounter. "He didn't know what I was talking about. He was, 'No, no. Dude, I told you: You're driving this bus. You're the drummer now.'" [laughs] Turned out the other guy was just fronting.
Ice-T fans may want to hear the O.G. do straight gangsta rap like in the old days, but luckily for Dorsey, that won't be happening any time soon. "I don’t really hear him talking about that," he says. "He's pretty uninspired with what’s happening [in hip-hop]. He's been saying it's not the time. I think he is feeling Body Count overall a lot more."